Sears brings back Wish Book holiday catalog

Sears is bringing back its Wish Book holiday catalog after a six-year hiatus.

"Our members told us they missed the Wish Book, so we had to bring it back, but in a special way that lets you share more joy wherever you are,” Kelly Cook, chief marketing officer for Hoffman Estates-based Sears and Kmart, said in a news release Wednesday.

The retailer began printing the catalog — then called the Sears Christmas Book — in 1933. The first edition’s 88 pages included Miss Pigtails dolls, battery-powered toy cars, Mickey Mouse watches, Lionel electric trains, fruitcakes, chocolates and canaries.

It came out almost every year — with a gap in 1993 and 1994 — until 2011, when Sears decided to focus on other holiday initiatives, Cook said. Wish Books varied in size, but they often topped 600 pages, she said.

You won’t find live birds in this year’s 120-page book, which includes holiday decorations, toys, apparel, tools and appliances, including a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Sears and KitchenAid parent Whirlpool disclosed plans to cut ties earlier this week, but Sears didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on whether the split affected plans for the holiday book.

The move to bring back the catalog comes as Sears continues to struggle to turn around years of shrinking sales. The company has closed or announced plans to close more than 330 Sears and Kmart stores this year and borrowed $140 million — with the ability to borrow up to $100 million more — from affiliates of CEO Edward Lampert this month alone.

The items featured in the holiday catalog aren’t the only thing about it that’s changed since 1933.

Most shoppers will only see a digital version of the catalog, either on Sears’ website or its app, where prices will update as they change over the holiday season.

Sears said its “best members” will receive a print copy in the mail, and some other customers in its Shop Your Way membership program will receive an email allowing them to pick up a copy at a Sears store.

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Twitter @laurenzumbach

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune
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